Wagons and camera of Sam A. Cooley, U.S. photographer, Department of the South. Library of Congress photo, LC-DIG-cwpb-03518 DLC.

Many of the stories of the Civil War are told through the eyes of high-ranking officers who directed the battles and strategies of the war.

The stories of those who actually fought can bring to life the experiences of the Civil War. But what if your ancestor didn’t leave a personal account?

You can make use of what are called “parallel stories.” An example of a parallel story would be when two men served in the same military unit and one left a dairy or memoir and the other didn’t. You could use the dairy or memoir to reconstruct the experiences of the man who didn’t leave a written record and be pretty sure they were similar. This is a perfectly legitimate use of parallel stories and a way to write history, as long as you tell the readers what you are doing.

Because none of the three Poore brothers left a written record, Poore Boys In Gray had to make good use of parallel stories out of necessity.

The problem until the Internet came along was in finding an appropriate dairy or memoir.

The Web is more accessible than ever and chock-full of stories of the privates and corporals who were on the battlefields and in the trenches doing the actual fighting. One example is The Veteran’s Story. This is the memoir of R. J. Lightsey, of the Jasper Grays, 16th Mississippi Infantry, as told to his daughter, Ada Christine Lightsey, and published by her in 1899.

To help you find your own parallel stories, I’ve created a Resources page for this blog. Just click on the tab at the top of this page. I will continue to add resources as I go along.

Also check out the sites listed under the Blogroll on the left side of this page. They have links to other good resources, too.

I hope you will suggest more resources in the comment section to help other researchers.

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